Advocates beat Bar ban

2012-11-29 22:14


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Bloemfontein - Efforts by the General Council of the Bar to ban more advocates from the profession for milking the Road Accident Fund failed on Thursday.

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal in a matter concerning 13 advocates who overcharged the Road Accident Fund.

In a majority judgment the SCA dismissed the council’s bid to strike off seven more senior members of the Pretoria Bar.

The court also dismissed appeals by six advocates from the Pretoria Bar to return their names to the roll.

The advocates were found to have accepted multiple cases on the same day (so-called double briefing) and charged a full day's fee for each case (overreaching).

Twelve advocates from the Pretoria Bar - Brenton Geach SC, Don Williams SC, Stef Gldenpfennig, Mark Upton, Ephraim Seima, Cassie Jordaan, Colin van Onselen, Thillay Pillay, Theunis Botha, Toy de Klerk, Percy Leopeng and Daniel Mogagabe - were found guilty on their own admissions of unprofessional conduct and disciplined.

A thirteenth advocate, French Bezuidenhout, was struck from the roll of advocates by the Pretoria Bar.

However, in proceedings in the High Court to confirm the Pretoria Bar’s disciplinary actions, the GCB intervened and sought orders striking the names of all the advocates from the roll.

The High Court disagreed but imposed further sanctions on seven: Geach, Williams, Gldenpfennig, Upton, Seima, Jordaan, and Van Onselen. They were ordered to repay the RAF.

Dissenting judgment

The names of Pillay, Botha, De Klerk, Leopeng, Mogagabe, and Bezuidenhout were ordered struck from the roll. They too had to repay the RAF.

The GCB asked the SCA that the seven whose names were not ordered to be struck from the roll by the High Court, be removed.

The six advocates struck from the roll appealed the orders against them. The SCA dismissed the GCB’s appeal.

The appeals by the six advocates to be allowed back to the Bar were also dismissed. However, the order that they had to repay the RAF was cancelled.

In the dissenting judgment, two judges felt the GCB’s appeals in respect of Geach, Gldenpfennig, and Van Onselen should succeed.

The two judges felt the three advocate's names should also be struck from the roll.

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